17. The Elladan Show: 6
December 25th (Arfiommereth)
Today was not fantastically wonderful. I should have known.
I woke up to some very odd sounds. At first I thought Elrohir had put his Tamagotchi under my pillow again, but then I opened my eyes and saw that the noises were coming from my computer. I must've fallen asleep while playing pinball. I looked at my watch and saw that it was a few minutes after four in the morning. Then I looked at the hide-a-bed, and saw that Elrohir and Legolas had made a blanket fort. They were sitting inside, giggling.
I tried to get into bed to go back to sleep properly, but their fort took up the entire mattress. I asked what they were doing in there. Elrohir said, "Undressing the iguana." Legolas giggled. I growled and punched their fort, but I guess they had made it out of tables and blankets, because my fist hit something hard with a pointy corner and it really hurt. I yelled, "Where am I supposed to sleep if you idiots are taking up the bed?!" Elrohir said, "We made you another bed on the brown lounge." I looked over at the brown lounge. It had sheets, blankets, and a pillow. On the pillow, tucked under the blankets, was a pair of Elrohir's dirty socks. Elrohir poked his head out of the fort just long enough to yell, "Don't wake the stinky socks!" and laugh wildly. I balled up the socks, tossed them at the fort, and got into my makeshift bed.
The last thing I remember thinking was, "I'm never going to get to sleep now," but what seemed like only seconds later, I woke up to something poking into my eye. That turned out to be the nose of the iguana, which Elrohir was holding in front of my face. The iguana sneezed on me. Elrohir scolded the iguana, saying, "Elladan is nothing to be sneezed at." I punched him in the groin. He managed to hand off the iguana to Legolas before collapsing to the floor and making groaning-type noises. I didn't feel sorry at all. That's what sort of mood I was in.
He and Legolas were wary after that, and left me pretty much alone as we all went into the kitchen to wait for present-opening time. Thranduil was already up and reading yesterday's paper over a mug of coffee, looking robotically alert as ever. I'm still convinced he never sleeps. His mother was still in bed, his wife was slicing up fruit, and his daughters were all fighting over who got the biggest orange. I grabbed a snowman mug full of coffee and sat beside Thranduil. Elrohir and Legolas grabbed holly glasses full of Five Alive and sat beside me. In a few minutes Círdan showed up, then grandpa, then Haldir and Orophin. Thranduil's mother made her appearance after about twenty minutes, followed by dad and Erestor. Grandma shuffled in just after eight-thirty, wearing an ivory satin bedroom ensemble and holding a gel mask over her eyes. Her slippers had high heels and feathers on the toes. Thranduil's wife, wearing practical green flannelette and regular slippers, thinned her lips disapprovingly.
Grandma grabbed her coffee and stood beside grandpa. The two looked even more like polar opposites than usual. Grandpa was wearing a plaid bathrobe and one-piece long underwear. He shops almost exclusively from the L.L. Bean catalogue. Dad and Erestor, on the other hand, were dressed almost identically and kept standing too close together. It was a bit nauseating.
At nine we held a group referendum and decided not to wait for Rúmil and Ardlor, who, according to Haldir, never get out of bed before ten. As soon as the decision was made, Elrohir made a beeline for the living room and took his place beside the tree. He very efficiently handed out the presents, subcontracting a portion of them out to Legolas, who could more easily figure out which of his sisters was which. The whole operation took a very long time. I got:
*digital camera (from dad)
*wireless optical mouse (from "Aulë")
*leather-bound Sindarin-Quenya dictionary (from Erestor)
*insanely large bath towel (from dad)
*fancy Sinda costume (from grandma and grandpa)
*large feather pillow (from "Aulë")
*box containing a travel hairbrush, travel alarm clock, travel-size shampoo, high-definition film, a pack of Incrediberry Koolaid, and two blank Cds (from Elrohir)
*collection of underthings that I didn't feel comfortable showing anyone else (from Aerthos)
*collection of seven different tabloid papers (from Rúmil and Ardlor)
*flowering cactus (from Legolas)
*book on organisational tips for small rooms and a gift certificate to Ikea (from Arwen and Aragorn)
*ski socks and mittens (from Thranduil)
*cineplex passes (from Haldir and Orophin)
*jigsaw puzzle shaped like a cat and a video movie ratings book (from Thranduil's daughters)
*book of mind puzzles and tests (from Círdan)
*all the usual stuff in my stocking like gummi snowmen, icy squares, Blistex stick, candy cane, novelty hand-shaped soap, and a Nandorin orange.
Rúmil and Ardlor were up in time to join in at the halfway point, and it was almost noon by the time everything was unwrapped. All the used wrappings made a very nice fire. Elrohir, as usual, had the largest pile of stuff. His favourites were a big new iguana cage (from dad) and salt and pepper shakers shaped like a bum (from Orophin). Grandpa was very happy with his paper shredder, and tried it out straight away on some used wrappings. Grandma sat in the good rocking chair, put her feet in the paraffin spa, and stayed there with her eyes half closed until it was time to get dressed. I put the batteries in my new camera and took some pictures of the fantastic mess of wrappings and boxes. Legolas changed into his dog pyjamas right there in the living room with everybody watching.
At ten minutes past noon, dad remembered that everyone had to be in front of the government building downtown at one for the big Fiommereth speech thing. Chaos erupted. Grandma found out that grandpa had brought his light silver formal outfit instead of the dark silver, which she had anticipated him wearing when she picked out her gown. She then refused to appear in public wearing her pale gold, which, she claimed, would cause both her and grandpa to appear washed-out on camera when standing next to each other. She was forced to dig through the cedar chest of mum's old things trying to find something suitably fabulous that would compliment pale silver. After tossing aside the top five layers of foofy one-shouldered taffeta monstrosities as "too early Third Age", she eventually found something from the Second Age that was just retro enough to be fashionable again. Grandpa, oblivious to the fuss he had created, was eating a toaster waffle. He got a drop of syrup on his disruptive pale silver costume. Elrohir covered it with an impromptu corsage made out of holly and packing tape.
Thranduil, meanwhile, had lost one of his good shoes, and Círdan had completely forgotten to bring his formal speech-giving outfit. He had to borrow something of dad's that was culturally ambiguous enough to be possibly mistaken for Telerin. I wore my new Sinda costume from grandma and grandpa. It had seven separate layers and was more difficult to put on than my usual stupid Noldo costume, but in the end felt less like I was wearing a boat tarp. Elrohir also wore his new Sinda costume, but with his old Noldo trousers, since he had already managed to get a yogurt stain on the new ones. Dad told him to make sure he stood behind grandma and grandpa for the whole speech thing because everybody knows Sindar don't wear wraparound trousers.
We left home at twenty to one, with dad, me, Elrohir and Círdan in dad's car and Thranduil, his wife, Legolas, grandma and grandpa in Thranduil's van. Everyone else had to stay at home and make supper. We parked in a handicap spot beside the government building just as the television crews were checking their watches and dad's press secretary was running around with wild eyes and flailing hands. She more or less dragged dad up to the podium on the stairs and he had ten seconds to compose himself before going live on the air. The rest of us sort of filtered in behind him when we thought the timing was right. On the taped version I watched later it looked like somebody new had popped up behind dad every time the camera cut away to pan the crowd and then cut back to him. Elrohir's face was very prominent, straining as he was to peer over grandpa's shoulder.
Dad spoke for about fifteen minutes, then made way for grandma and grandpa, followed by Círdan and finally Thranduil, who had to stand on his tiptoes and adjust the microphone because he is at least fifteen centimetres shorter than everybody else. All of them talked about peace, togetherness, and the promising future of Valinor in the coming Fourth Age. It was very iconic in a televisiony sort of way. They shook hands, especially with Thranduil, and gave cheesy smiles to the camera. The whole ordeal lasted about an hour, with no commercial breaks. Then, while the speakers went around shaking hands with important community leaders, a handful of journalists from lesser-known television and radio stations came over to ask me, Elrohir, and Legolas questions about what we thought the future held for the Elven realms of Middle-earth. Elrohir said, "Time. Definitely lots of time. And like peace would be totally awesome too." Legolas concurred. I said something stupid like, "Without a doubt, I can thoroughly envisage a future rich in peace and prosperity not only for Rivendell but for all of Middle-earth. A future in which equality, happiness, and goodwill are paramount. We have seen the end of a dark time in our history, and we are now on the brink of a bright new era." I gave my best fake smile to the photographers. All those political science courses have completely ruined my street cred.
We got home at quarter to three. I walked into the house fully expecting the smell of roasting turkey, but instead found only the smell of turnips. Erestor was standing in the front entryway with crossed arms and thinned lips. He wordlessly dragged dad into the kitchen, pointed at an enormous turkey on the counter, and said, "It won't fit in the oven." Dad said, "Don't be absurd," and picked up the turkey. It wouldn't fit into the oven for him either. Backwards, frontwards, sideways, upside-down or diagonal, the turkey was too big. Haldir offered to cut off its legs and part of its bum, but dad hollered that he wouldn't stand for a defaced Fiommereth turkey. Orophin said that it was already de-faced and what difference would it make if it were also de-legged and de-bummed, but that just made dad angrier. He threw the gravy baster across the kitchen.
Playing the diplomat, grandma said, "Don't you have a roast or ham or something in the freezer we could cook instead?" Erestor looked, but all he found (aside from two packs of wieners) was a box of veal cutlets, and we couldn't have those because veal gives Elrohir gas. Grandpa said, "What about that first small turkey you bought before you knew Thranduil was going to show up?" Dad said he'd given that one away to somebody from work. Then Thranduil said, "The only thing you can do now is go out and buy another turkey." Dad hollered, "Where am I supposed to get another turkey today?!" Erestor quietly said, "No Frills is open. I saw their ad in the paper." Dad grabbed my arm and said, "We're going to No Frills."
In all the years I have been alive, dad has never once set foot inside No Frills. He considers it, along with SuperStore and the Co-Op, to be a communist-based organisation bent on taking over the grocery industry with their cheap-prices-but-no-service manifesto. He shops almost exclusively at Safeway, where apples cost 80 cents more per kilogram. I'm surprised he even knew where No Frills was. We went in the side door, slinking past a large throng of people gathered on the pavement, and made for the frozen meats. There were two turkeys left. We chose the one without a large dent in the side. We paid for the stupid thing and were on the home stretch when we stepped through the OUT door and into the tail end of a 24-hour food drive for the Rivendell Drop-In Centre. The throng of people cheered at the site of The One And Only Elrond, still in his fancy speech-giving costume, standing right beside the food drive host and holding a large turkey.
The host said, "I don't believe this, folks! I just don't believe it! Elrond himself had dropped in out of nowhere, and look at that beautiful turkey! I'm telling you, ladies and gentlemen, this is a true Fiommereth miracle!" Dad plastered on his fake smile, but I just know I saw him cringing as he was forced to hand our turkey over to the drop-in centre volunteers. They gave him a button that said "I gave the gift of holiday cheer" in return. He said a few words about helping the needy and giving to others less fortunate. He had to wish everyone a merry Fiommereth and shake at least a hundred hands before they let him slip away, and even then the Access camera crew followed us all the way to the car. As soon as we were a safe few blocks away dad made a low growly noise, but other than that neither of us said anything.
We had sprouts, turnip, carrots, and mashed potato for Fiommereth supper. No gravy on the potatoes, even, just salt and pepper. Glorfindel would've been proud. Afterward Thranduil gave everybody a little slice of the goose jerky Elrohir had given him, so that was almost traditional, if tradition had been flattened, dried, chemically processed, and shrink-wrapped to seal in authentic artificial smoke flavouring. The only up side was that there were fewer dishes to wash, and no greasy turkey pan or crusty gravy pot to scrub. The dishes were done in record time, and we even had half an hour to spare before sitting down to watch the taped replay of Aragorn's speech from earlier in the day. He isn't a very good public speaker. His tactic is to yell a bunch of clichés in a convincing voice while pointing at a flag. The crowd seemed to love it, though. Arwen was wearing a dress that was far too revealing for the occasion, but the crowd seemed to love that too.
After that dad telephoned Arwen, and we all had a few minutes to chat with her about the holidays in Gondor before it was time to watch Finarfin's speech live from Tirion. He looked tired and just about as stressed-out as dad. Maybe this Fiommereth chaos was a world-wide epidemic. Glorfindel was sitting on a chair behind him, so he had probably just endured holidays with Glorfindel, Aralindë, and the baby. Glorfindel also looked a bit tired and stressed. Sitting next to Glorfindel was somebody who I'm guessing was Finrod. He kept giving Glorfindel stern looks, as if to say, "Stop scratching your nose; you're on international television." After Finarfin's (rather long) speech was over, Glorfindel got up and paraphrased it in Sindarin for the benefit of non-Quenya-speaking viewers. I'm not sure if Royal Translator is a step up or down from Chief Accountant of Rivendell.
Only Elrohir, Legolas, Thranduil, and Orophin stayed up to watch Ingwë's speech. Everyone else went to bed early. Actually, that's not quite true. I thought everyone else went to bed early, but when I went to the living room to search for my slippers, I passed the kitchen door and saw dad, Erestor, grandma and Círdan sitting at the table, passing around a joint. I was very tempted to complain to grandpa about this, but then I couldn't remember if he'd be more likely to disapprove or join in, so I decided not to.
Today just wasn't the same without a good plate of Merry Fiommereth Mush to eat in bed while watching DVDs. A perfectly good family tradition has been ruined, and all because Thranduil showed up and forced dad to buy a turkey that was too big to fit in the oven! I had a pizza pop and watched television for a while, but it wasn't anywhere near the same and the entire routine was thrown off. I changed out of my pyjamas and went to see what else I could do around the house.
I found dad trying to figure out how to work his new cordless telephone (a gift from grandma and grandpa). He was convinced that it wasn't charging properly and/or was broken, until he remembered that he had to plug it into a telephone jack to get a dial tone. Then I found Elrohir, Orophin, and Thranduil playing Nintendo in the living room. They were all still wearing pyjamas. At first I thought Thranduil was Legolas, but then I remembered seeing Legolas in the kitchen trying to make cookies in the microwave. Thranduil turned away from Mario Kart long enough to ask me if I would take him shopping later. I told him I would, then quickly took off to hide so he wouldn't be able to call me on that promise.
I went back to the kitchen to find Legolas. He was getting yelled at by his mother for spilling corn syrup all over the counter. I had nothing better to do so I helped Legolas clean it up. Legolas' mother told him I was a very good example and he should try to be more like me. He said he was, though he didn't elaborate so much as to tell us in what capacity. Then she asked me if I knew where Thranduil was. I told her he was playing Nintendo in the living room, and she made an exasperated sort of noise and muttered something about Thranduil being more like an extra child than a husband. I said yes, at his age, he should know better. She snorted and said, "No, at his age he's still fighting to overcome the urge to go out and get drunk with his buddies every weekend." Curiously, I asked her how old he was, and almost choked on my Five Alive when she said, in a disgusted voice, 3081.
I suppose if I had been paying attention in my Mirkwood class, I would've learned that Thranduil became King at age 54, beating Gil-galad's youngest-ever-to-be-crowned record by 11 years. But I didn't pay attention, so I had to go look that up in the encyclopaedia in the den. I sat in a quiet corner by myself to get over the shock and do the math, and figured out that I am actually closer in age to Thranduil than to Legolas. Then I made a flowchart to get everything into perspective. The list of ages, from oldest to youngest, goes: Círdan, grandma or grandpa (grandpa claims time didn't exist before the rising of the Moon, so he doesn't know how old he is, but I think this is just a way to get out of admitting that he married an older woman), Glorfindel, Oropher, Erestor, Gil-galad, dad, mum, Haldir, Thranduil, Orophin, Elrohir and me, Rúmil, Arwen, Legolas. I had just about come to terms with that when the telephone rang.
It was Glorfindel. I could hear a baby wailing in the background. I think he was trying to escape his ill-thought-out fatherhood role. I told him all about the terrific times we've been having here in Rivendell, and he kept asking questions in a voice that clearly sounded like he'd rather be here than wherever he was (probably Tirion). He was especially impressed by the entirely vegan supper, and thought that spending Fiommereth with Thranduil and company would be "fun". He said that supper with Finarfin had been the usual Noldorin three-kinds-of-meat affair, and he had been forced to wander the streets at midnight trying to find a falafel stand that was open. Of course he didn't find one, since all the Vanyarin immigrants who run the falafel stands are deeply religious and don't believe in working on holidays. He had to settle for a corporate franchise pita.
I tried to change the subject to something more cheerful by mentioning that we all watched him on television, but he complained about that too. He doesn't like having to act as Finarfin's translator, especially since he has issues with Finarfin's traditional capitalist government and doesn't want to be associated with it in any way. In fact, he has recently joined the Socialist Labour Party and is considering running for office. I reminded him that he was afraid of television cameras and hated being interviewed. He said he was taking classes to get over that. Then I heard a crash and some yelling in the background, and Glorfindel said very quietly, "I have to go. Amma just dropped a pan of olive puffs and broke a tile. I'll ring back tomorrow. I don't have to pay the long distance here." I asked where he was and he said, "Finarfin's."
Talking to Glorfindel always makes me feel better, since no matter what's going on, his life is always more screwed-up than mine.
After that I went and found grandpa, who was sitting at the dining room table doing an enormous crossword puzzle that took up nearly an entire page of today's newspaper. I nicked the rest of the paper to read. A picture of dad and Thranduil shaking hands was on the front page. A picture of me with the headline "ELLADAN: Bright New Era" was on page three. I cut that out to give to grandma, so she could put it in her scrapbook beside the clipping of Elrohir after he won a giant stuffed frog from the ring toss game at the fair and the one of me from the Grey Havens Telegraph being interviewed on the street about new bus stops.
I microwaved another pizza pop for supper and went to bed early to watch television. Haldir joined me for a while, but kept switching the channel to hockey. I was glad when he left so I could watch Biography in peace. It was a biography of Hador- one I'd never seen before. After that was a biography of dad, which I didn't need to watch, so I switched to the A Channel just in time to see the opening credits for the movie about Ingwë that Elrohir was in last spring. I yelled for him to come quick as I popped a blank tape into the video, and he came, towing Legolas and Orophin along with him. They all got very excited and ran to get everybody else. I lost my seat as dad, Erestor, grandma, grandpa and Círdan came in to watch and made me fold the hide-a-bed back up into a sofa. At the first commercial break, Erestor went to microwave some popcorn and Orophin went to tell Rúmil and Ardlor, but they already knew and were watching it in their room with Haldir.
Overall the movie was pretty cheesy and historically dubious, but still everyone was very proud to see Elrohir on television and not being interviewed about the unfairness of skateboarding bylaws for once. Dad said we could go out for supper tomorrow night to celebrate. Grandma said Elrohir was a very good Fëanor and that his movie was very nice, even though she did think the director should've found an actor without a Mirkwood accent to be Manwë's voice. Besides Glorfindel and Aralindë, I was able to pick out two extras that I recognised. A member of Finwë's entourage works at Taco Barn, and I went to school with one of the palace guards.
After everybody else left to go to bed, Legolas asked Elrohir for his autograph. Elrohir proudly signed Legolas' bum with a Sharpie, then took a picture of it with my new camera so Legolas could still have the autograph after the ink washed off. I now have a photo of Legolas' bum saved on my hard drive. The sad thing is, I can't decide whether that's good or bad.
Thranduil is addicted to drugs. And not the usual kind of drugs that normal people are addicted to, like cocaine and heroin. No, Thranduil has to be different, and is addicted to all the perfectly legal drugs one can buy at any apothecary. So far today I have watched him consume: two Tylenol with codeine, two Advil, one Aspirin, a generic brand acetaminophen gel cap, three pink somethings that came out of a blister pack, a spoonful of protein powder dissolved in fruit juice, a vitamin A pill, four different B vitamin pills, six vitamin Cs (both large orange flavoured and small unflavoured), a vitamin E gel cap, calcium with vitamin O, a Centrum for women who are trying to get pregnant (snitched from his wife when he couldn't find his own regular Centrum), iron supplement, and more caffeine pills than I'm sure are necessary.
I took him shopping this morning to get away from the house, where the phone kept going off every other minute. People were ringing to congratulate Elrohir on the movie. Agencies were ringing to ask if he had representation. Various local businesses were ringing to enquire after his availability for locally-produced advertisements. The U of R rang to ask him to come back to their theatre honours program, and even offered to overlook all the fails on his transcript. Dad started to get rather rude in his telephone-answering after the first twenty. So when Thranduil asked again if I would take him shopping, I jumped at the opportunity.
I thought he'd probably want to go to the usual shopping centres to look around, but while driving past Super Drug Mart he yelled, "There! Let's go there!" We went there, and stayed for well over two hours. Thranduil was in a state of bliss looking over two entire aisles of non-prescription treasures to purchase. I did three tours around the store, spending as much time as one could possibly spend looking at shampoo, deodorant, hair colourant, and batteries. Then, when Thranduil still wasn't done filling his basket with everything that looked remotely useful, I stood behind him ominously and hoped he'd get the hint. He didn't. Forty minutes and almost three hundred dollars later, we were finally back in the car. I was glad he didn't want to go anywhere else.
As we drove home he listed his inventory of purchases to me. He bought the regular assortment of vitamins plus various new exotic plant extracts and powders of stuff I've never heard of, pills to take away muscle pain, pills to take away joint pain, pills to take away tension pain, pills to take away generic all-over pain, pills to gain weight, pills to lose weight, pills to go to sleep, pills to wake up, pills to stay awake, pills to stay asleep, pills to maximise food energy, pills to augment food energy, pills to replace food energy, pills for fresh breath, pills for shiny hair, pills for clear skin, pills to clear one's system of toxins, pills to keep one's system toxin-free, and pills to maximise the effect of other pills. He also bought a tube of Blistex.
When we got home I asked his wife about his pill dependence. She said it stemmed from insecurity over being noticeably short and started with him ordering a jar of Muscle Man pills from the back of a comic book when he was in school. To this day, every time she wears high heels it sets him off on a serious protein pill binge. They are the exact same height in flat shoes and he can't handle any artificial height difference. Then I watched her take one of her trying-to-get-pregnant vitamins. I'm not sure why she wants those, since she and Thranduil have seven kids already. I think they are both a bit wacko.
Just after supper, Glorfindel rang Thranduil's mobile. After chatting for a few minutes and not getting anywhere because Thranduil had taken a few too many caffeine pills and kept going off on tangents of very fast but nonsensical speech, he asked to speak to me. He asked me if the telephone was off the hook, because he'd been trying to get through all of last night and all of this morning (his time, I'm guessing). But before I could explain the situation of Elrohir being a celebrity, he told me that everything in Tirion is good and started talking about Elairon. I think Glorfindel is on drugs too, but the illegal sort. He sounded far mellower than his situation warrants and said "fantastic" very slowly, four times. I passed him off to Erestor next, then Erestor handed him off to dad, and dad passed him over to grandma. He and grandma talked for a good while until grandma said, "No! No, I refuse to- Don't you dare! Glorfindel, if you even think of... Oh hallo atto."
The next few minutes were rather awkward as she gave Finarfin a brief summary of her life these past seven thousand years, speaking in funny Quenya that sounded like it was halfway between the proper kind I learn in school and the kind Glorfindel speaks. The House of Finarfin seems to have a dialect unto itself. She informed her father that she was married now and had one daughter and three grandchildren, so I'm guessing they haven't spoken in a long while. Then Finarfin must've asked to speak to grandpa, the heathen dark Elf for whom grandma abandoned her culture and birthright, because she scowled and passed the phone to him. He looked confused and kept saying, "I'm sorry, I don't understand you... I don't speak your language..." then gave up and handed the phone to Erestor, who finished the conversation pretending to be grandpa. When it was all over grandpa worriedly asked, "What did you say?" Erestor said, "I told him that I, meaning you, met Galadriel while fox hunting with Fingolfin in Dor Lómin, and was made an honorary member of Fingolfin's court for my skill and horsemanship. He seemed to like that."
Grandpa went a bit bonkers and shouted, "But that never happened! We met at Daeron's birthday luau! What if he finds out and thinks I'm a liar?!" Grandma said, "Don't be absurd. How would he ever find out?" Just then Thranduil's mobile rang again. I answered. It was Glorfindel. Glorfindel said, "Why did Celeborn tell Finarfin he met Galadriel while fox hunting? Finrod just said those two met at Daeron's birthday party during Galadriel's first week in Doriath, after Aegnor got drunk on sambucca and knocked a tiki torch into the lilac tree. It's causing mass confusion!" I could hear confused shouting in the background. Obviously the news of grandma and grandpa's backyard barbeque liaison was causing Finarfin serious grief. Grandma and grandpa didn't need to know that though, so I said, "I'm sorry, we're not interested," and disconnected. Thranduil asked who it was, just in case he was interested. I told him it was carpet cleaners. Then he got upset because his carpets at home really did need cleaning, and he'd been waiting for months for somebody to telephone him with a deal.
At about this point I realised I had a terrible headache, so I went to lie down in the den. Elrohir and Legolas were playing Bust-A-Move. The electronic music and bleepy sounds were soothing after the cacophony of everybody shouting about fox hunts and luaus. We never did go out for supper. Clearly, dad is a liar.
Dad has had it up to here with all the fuss over Elrohir's movie and discussion of Daeron's birthday luau. He marched into the den around midnight last night and said, "We are leaving town." Elrohir asked where we were going, and dad said, "We are going skiing." I asked if this was Thranduil's idea. Dad said no, but I think he was lying again. Then he told us we would be leaving today at noon. That is inadequate time in which to prepare for a ski vacation, I think. I can't remember where I stored my ski kit, or my skis for that matter. Elrohir and I searched through all the bags of clothes in the garage, but all we found were some very old things of his. I think I might be forced to wear his old snowboard gear with duct tape on the bum. People will think dad neglects me. Which is actually true, but what can you expect from someone of his upbringing? His idea of quality family time is all of us being in the same building at the same time.
Rúmil and Ardlor are not coming skiing. They have had enough quaint family holidaying to last forever, and have opted to check into the Marriott downtown until the movie people get their housing situation sorted out. Haldir and Orophin are not coming skiing either, but are staying here to water our plants, feed the iguana, and continue the quest to find the cat (who has been eating her food every night but has not been seen in weeks). Círdan's flight back to the Grey Havens leaves on the 30th, so he's staying with Haldir and Orophin until then. Grandma and grandpa are coming along to the resort but are not going to ski, and Thranduil's small army is coming in full force. We have six rooms booked at the Anorhíl Village Fairmont starting tomorrow night. I just know I'm going to be stuck sharing with Elrohir and Legolas. I just know it.
We stayed at the Red Carpet Inn, arriving late last night. It was surprisingly nice for a ski town motel that only charges $79 per night. It had new carpet, new paint, new wall paper, and furniture that wasn't all scuffed up. It made me uneasy wondering how it could possibly be so cheap. Then I finally noticed all the religious things. All the books for sale in the lobby had titles like "Eru Made Elves", the postcards were pictures of things like the nearby monument to Elbereth, there was a prayer book and a guide to local temples in the bedside table, and a framed proverb about the Valar on the wall above the telly. The owners were seducing us with cheap rates and then forcing their religious views on us hapless victims, and I pointed all this out to Elrohir and Legolas as we unpacked our things in the room we were stuck sharing. Elrohir wondered why a religious motel would be called the Red Carpet Inn. Legolas said, "I bet Elbereth's dog sleeps on a red carpet." He and Elrohir were up half the night discussing the likelihood of Elbereth owning a dog.
Dad woke us up at six this morning so we wouldn't miss a minute of skiing fun. I groggily got dressed in my crappy ski gear, packed up my things, and stumbled down to the car. It was still dark outside. Dad was in such a hurry to get going that we didn't even have time for a proper breakfast: we just got donuts from a drive-through window. I fell asleep on the drive up the mountain. So did Elrohir and Legolas, and we all ended up sort of flopped against each other in the back seat of Erestor's Tempo. Erestor took a picture with my camera and showed us when we woke up. From the angle of the photo, it looks like Legolas' hand is in a very awkward spot in my lap. At least I'm hoping it's just the angle of the photo.
As we pulled into the car park at Anorhíl ski resort, I could clearly see the big scrolling screen atop the gondola lodge displaying "DECEMBER 29TH" and "BASE TEMP -29° VILLAGE TEMP -32°". Elrohir was first out of the car, and he said, "Crap it's cold!" I followed him out and had to agree. Erestor said, "I'm not skiing in this weather," and that started an argument between him and dad, over pre-purchased lift tickets and a non-refundability clause. I slunk off to the ski rental queue so I wouldn't have to listen to them. By the time I got back things had quietened down, but only because they weren't on speaking terms any more. Dad silently handed me my lift pass, and I went to join Elrohir and Legolas in the gondola line. According to grandma, who showed up sometime later, dad and Erestor went up the hill in separate gondolas.
At the top of the gondola were four chair lifts. It was so cold that Legolas and I decided to go up the shortest chair. By the time we came back down we had to sit in the day lodge for fifteen minutes to warm up our frozen hands and feet. Then we did one more run, then sat in the lodge for another fifteen minutes. The entire morning passed like that, until we met up with Elrohir, who was shivering so much he couldn't talk properly. We sat in the lodge for half an hour and had a lunch of hot soup. Then, since we were feeling a bit more adventurous and since we heard on the lodge radio that the temperature had gone up to -27, we set off to go up the Eagle chair and then the Summit chair to the top of the mountain. We had to sit in the cookie shack at the top of the Summit chair for fifteen minutes to warm up, and then come back in to the day lodge for hot chocolate once we got to the bottom. In total, I think I spent twice as much time in the day lodge as I did actually skiing.
At 4-30 when the lifts closed, we hauled all our crap up to the on-hill hotel. Grandpa and Erestor were sitting in the lobby playing cards. As I tried to coax circulation back into my fingers, I couldn't help but think that they had the right idea. Erestor said that he had already checked us in, and handed Elrohir, Legolas and me our key cards. We are sharing a room, of course. It is between dad and Erestor's room and Thranduil's room. I am going to be hearing noises filtering through both walls all night, between the trying-to-get-pregnant vitamins and the inevitable apology sex.
All our bags had already been brought up to the room. I changed out of my ski things and immediately flopped down on one of the beds, and must have fallen asleep straight away. I am clearly not in very good shape if a day of sitting around in the lodge and some skiing can wear me out like that. But I woke up to dad shaking me, saying it was time to go for supper. I was too tired to want to go for supper, but also too hungry to want to stay in bed, so I settled halfway and wore my pyjamas down to the dining room. Dad made a disapproving face, but I don't think anyone else noticed, since my pyjamas consist of GHU sweats and tee-shirt. I ordered fish sticks. I think the pyjamas were preventing me from wanting to order anything remotely resembling adult food, like chicken stuffed with mushrooms or grilled vegetables on soy noodles. Thranduil didn't join us for supper. I'm pretty sure he was still out on the hill, walking up and skiing down.
After supper I went down to the pool and sat in the hot tub with grandma for a while, but she got mad at me for calling her "grandma" while she was shamelessly flirting with some college boys. Then she got madder at me when they started laughing and called her a cougar. I left the pool area and went to watch television with grandpa, only he kept falling asleep in the recliner and wasn't very good company. So after wandering around the hotel corridors aimlessly for about half an hour, I gave up and went back to the room. The television was showing music videos and Elrohir and Legolas were sitting on the bed, surrounded by candy. They had spent thirty eight dollars on candy at the gift shop, and were arm wrestling over the last Reese cup. I solved the dilemma and ate it for them. Then, once they were good and hyper from all the sugar and chemicals, they went down to the pool to go water sliding. Elrohir thought it would be the funniest thing ever to wear two bathing suits at the same time, so he did. Experience is telling me that they'll be kicked out within the hour.
When dad came to wake us up this morning, he got confused when he saw four pair of swim shorts drying on the radiator and only three of us in the room. The problem will likely stay with him for the rest of the day.
I didn't really want to go skiing, but Elrohir wanted me to take some action photos of him going over jumps, so I figured I might as well. I spent a lot of time huddled near the bottom of snowboard jumps, watching for Elrohir and trying to keep warm. After three hours I only had two decent shots because I kept having to stick my camera down the front of my parka to warm it up and I missed the jumps. Then dad happened to ski by, and he insisted on taking us all up to the highest peak on the Top of the World T-bar. I couldn't feel my hands by the time we got to the top, and then I still had to face the long ski down. It was followed by a good forty minutes in the day lodge, drinking cider and eating stew. Legolas joined me halfway through. He sat down, put his head in his hands, and said, "I never want to go outside again." Thranduil had made him go down a run on the south side of the mountain, and he took a wrong turn and got stuck in a valley full of trees. He still had pine needles on his hat.
We waited until dad and Thranduil came in for lunch and told them we were off to explore some new runs we hadn't done yet. Then, as soon as they were safely in the hamburger queue and unable to watch us, we went straight to the hotel and dumped our skis in the locker room. We spent the rest of the afternoon looking in the hotel gift shops, watching an ice sculpture contest, and posing as EnMax employees to get in on a complimentary wine and cheese reception. At four we changed back into our ski clothes and went and sat in the day lodge to wait for Elrohir. All in all, it was much better than actually skiing.
I looked at my ski pass this morning and saw that it was good through to January 2nd. I can't take that much skiing! Legolas and I are running out of creative ways to stay inside. Erestor spotted us in the games room today. We went back outside after that, but I had to stoop to pretending to twist my ankle to get out of going up the Top of the World tee-bar with dad again.
The only thing I can think of now is to get really hammered tonight at the hotel's New Years' celebration and hopefully wind up with too bad a hangover to be able to ski tomorrow.
January 1st, 3020
Got hammered as per plan, and suffered through the resulting bad hangover. Unfortunately, dad thought that fresh air and exercise would be the perfect cure for said hangover, so I had to go skiing today after all. Even worse, he stuck by my side every minute to make sure I was getting the most out of it. The only up side was that it wasn't so cold today. Only -19. Only! Ha! I can't wait to get back to the Grey Havens. The entire city shuts down if the temperature drops below -10.
I can't really remember which runs dad and I did. I only remember being cold and trying not to fall. I kept looking at my watch, but noon couldn't come fast enough. Then when it did come, lunch sped by, and I was back on the hill again with dad. Elrohir also joined us. Then I kept looking at my watch waiting for 4-30 to come. Then when 4-30 finally came, I went straight to my room and fell asleep. I woke up at ten, and I haven't been able to get back to sleep. My plans never work out right! Tomorrow I will have to ask Elrohir to help me think up a get-out-of-skiing plan. For some reason, his zany schemes have a higher rate of success.
The scheme Elrohir came up with sounded brilliant at first, and probably was brilliant until I actually tried to pull it off. His idea was for me to hire a snowboard for the day, thus being able to stay on the beginner hill and far away from dad. Everything went wonderfully until I actually tried to snowboard.
I couldn't even stand up on the dumb thing. Every time I got myself almost vertical, I started to tip either forward or backward. Within minutes, both my wrists and my bum were aching. Then, once I had almost mastered the standing up part, Elrohir forced me to try the moving part. I fell over many more times. The next several hours went more or less along those same lines. But after lunch I managed to slide about ten metres without falling over. After another hour, I was up to twenty metres. Finally, by the end of the day, I could go the length of the rope tow without falling. I still couldn't stop properly, though. My stopping method consisted of falling over. If I were a character in a romance novel, I just know some dashing snowboard pro would have come swooshing up to offer me the benefit of his expertise (among other things). But alas I am only me, and the only snowboard genius around was Elrohir, who seemed more concerned with writing "X-MEN HELLO" in the snow than helping me learn how to not fall over.
However, Elrohir and I did manage to spend the entire day doing pretty much nothing, and it went much more quickly than being dragged all over the mountain by dad. Also, falling over is hard work. I was actually sweating by the end of the afternoon. Legolas, unfortunately, wasn't so lucky. Thranduil had dragged him through all sorts of expert-only runs and dubious trails through the trees, where he cracked one of his ski boots. He fell asleep in the gondola on the way back down to the car park, and slept in the car on the entire long drive back to Rivendell. I tried to sleep, but between his and Elrohir's snoring there was no way. I was forced to talk to dad and Erestor instead. That became awkward after a few seconds, so dad decided to put on a tape. The only tape we could all agree on was Blondie. We listened to a continuous Blondie loop all the way home.
There were well over 100 unheard messages on our answering service when we got home. Dad made me listen to them all this morning and delete everything he didn't need to hear. I deleted 136 messages and kept three. The first one was from Círdan, saying he arrived safely back at the Grey Havens, though he thinks he left his hand towel in the bathroom. The second was from Glorfindel, wondering where we were. There were four other messages from Glorfindel as well, but I only kept the most recent one. Then the third was from Aerthos. I immediately felt sort of bad for not telephoning him in weeks. He sounded a bit sad on the message. Also a bit mad at me. Probably more mad at me than sad. I would have telephoned him right then, but it was time to take grandma and grandpa and Haldir and Orophin to the airport.
I rang him once I got back. I tried to say that it wasn't for lack of interest that I hadn't telephoned earlier, and told him about the extra guests and Thranduil and the skiing adventure, but all he said was, "Oh." Then I asked him about his holidays. He said he spend a usual Fiommereth in Forlond with his parents. His aunt and uncle came over for turkey dinner one night, but that's about it. I said it sounded very relaxing and unstressful. He said it was boring and he wished I had been around. I told him I'd be back at the Grey Havens tomorrow, but even that didn't do much to make him sound cheerier. In fact the entire conversation was pretty depressing. After a few minutes I couldn't take it any more so I lied and told him that dad needed to use the telephone for important government business. I am a terrible boyfriend. I kept hoping dad would show up within a few seconds and say he really did need to use the telephone, thus removing a bit of my guilt, but no such luck. He was too busy helping Erestor undecorated the house.
After packing up all my things and getting ready to go back to the Grey Havens tomorrow, I went to spend a last few quality hours in the den with Elrohir and Legolas. Unfortunately they weren't in the den, so I got to spend a few quality hours with them in the kitchen. They were holding scientific trials to figure out which soft drinks best went with which foods. According to their findings, Coke goes well with chilli but tastes like dust when mixed with Dentyne, Fresca goes with pickles but not with chicken soup, Sprite goes with almost everything and is best with noodles, and Junior Mints nullify the taste of Dr. Pepper. I asked which soft drink they'd recommend to go with Pizza Pops, and they said Orange Crush. We had Pizza Pops with Orange Crush for supper, followed by a desert of Jolly Ranchers and lemon tea. It was all surprisingly harmonious. Elrohir truly is a junk food connoisseur.
I am going to miss interesting suppers like that when I get back to residence, where they feed us almost exclusively pasta and hamburgers.
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.